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Conversos Then and Now
Monday, May 15 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 amFree
B’nei Ansuim (also known as “Conversos”, “New Christians. and “Marranos”) is a Hebrew phrase that means “Children [of the] coerced [converted Spanish Jews]” which is used to define the descendants of an estimated quarter of a million 15th-century Sephardic Jews who were coerced or forced to convert to Catholicism during the 14th and 15th century in Spain and Portugal. The concept of Conversos has gained popularity in the Latino community in the New World as it is estimated by the Jerusalem Post that around 25% of Latinos have significant Jewish DNA. The Jewish Agency of Israel estimates that the total population of Sephardic B’nei Anusim (67.78 million) is not only several times larger than the combined population of Jewish-integrated Sephardic sub-groups, but also more than four times the size of the total world Jewish population as a whole. The latter encompasses Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrachi Jews, and various other groups.
This presentation would discuss the history of Conversos in the New World and how many Latinos today are longing to recover their Jewish identity that was cruelly stolen from them as a result of the Spanish Inquisition over 500 years ago.
Joseph Berrios, a descendant of Conversos, served 29 years in the US Navy as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida and an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS). During his studies at ATS, Joseph was inducted and became a member of Eta Beta Rho (National Honor Society for students of Hebrew Language and Culture). He is currently pursuing rabbinical studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion. Joseph is a student member of Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains and is a member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. Joseph is the recipient of the UJA Scholars Graduate Fellowship. Joseph’s authenticity is reflected in his compassionate and empathetic care for those who are excluded and marginalized.
Joseph’s innovative project, Conversos Unidos, seeks to create a spiritual, uplifting community in which B’nei Anusim can support each other in their journey of discovery. Conversos Unidos is a platform that strengthens interreligious cooperation, dialogue, and trust between Christian and Jewish communities regarding B’nei Anusim and their place in Klal Yisrael.